Leaky gut syndrome, also known as intestinal permeability, is a digestive condition that causes small gaps to form in the lining of the intestines, allowing bacteria and other toxins to pass into the bloodstream. This type of gut permeability can lead to numerous other ailments as toxins in the bloodstream are distributed to various organs in the body. This article will talk about the best and worst foods for leaky gut.
If you want to learn more general information about leaky gut syndrome, check out our article “Leaky Gut Syndrome: Everything You Need to Know.”
Leaky Gut 101
To understand the best and worst foods for leaky gut, you must understand the basics of leaky gut and some of its primary causes.
The intestinal lining is a semi-permeable barrier that normally allows nutrients to pass through it into the bloodstream while keeping other toxins out. Leaky gut syndrome occurs when small gaps form in the intestinal lining. So now, rather than just nutrients getting into the bloodstream, undigested food particles, bacteria, and other toxins make their way into the blood.
The blood is responsible for transporting nutrients to all of the organs and tissues in the body. Therefore, when the blood is contaminated with toxins, it delivers these to the tissues and organs, which can have severe health consequences.
Furthermore, when undigested food particles make their way into the blood, the immune system identifies them as toxins and begins to develop antibodies for them. So, when one consumes these foods again, they may have an allergic reaction or allergy that they didn’t have before. This process is how leaky gut syndrome can lead to new food sensitivities and auto-immune conditions.
The leaky gut syndrome is something that we want to avoid. To do so, we need to understand what causes leaky gut syndrome and do our best to avoid and prevent these causes of the leaky gut syndrome. Several things can result in small gaps forming in the intestinal lining.
The primary causes of the leaky gut syndrome include:
While these may be separate and distinct causes of leaky gut, they tend to be interrelated issues that allow the leaky gut to form. For example, a poor diet, high toxic load, or chronic stress may create gut inflammation and cause a bacterial imbalance. A bacterial imbalance may allow organisms like Candida or parasites to grow in the gut, contributing to inflammation. For example, as Candida grows, it may spread up the intestinal wall and penetrate the gut lining.
So, when it comes to dietary and lifestyle habits for preventing leaky gut syndrome, we want to consider these significant causes and find ways to avoid them. We also want to focus on improving our gut health and providing our body with the nutrition to keep it healthy and strong.
Before we discuss the best foods to eat for leaky gut, it’s essential also to consider the process of digestion and its role in our overall health. So many people today are concerned about what foods to eat for health, but not as many people understand the importance of how to eat for health.
You could eat the most nutrient-dense foods globally, but if you are not adequately digesting these foods, you won’t receive any real benefit from them. Eating to support digestion is one of the best ways to ensure good gut health and prevent leaky gut.
While digestive health is an important and complex topic, here are a few simple tips you can follow for improving your digestion:
- Chew your food thoroughly
- Eat when you are in a relaxed state, don’t rush through your meals or eat when you are distracted
- Do not drink more than 4 ounces with meals, as too much water can dilute hydrochloric acid (HCL) needed for proper digestion
- Wait at least 3 hours between each meal
- Avoid overeating. Try to stop eating when you are about 75% full
- Eat at regular meal times. The body thrives when it has a routine, and eating at approximately the exact times each day can support digestive health
Worst Foods for Leaky Gut
Before discussing the best foods for leaky gut, let’s cover some of the worst foods briefly for leaky gut. Typically, any food or substance containing toxins or difficult to digest is recommended to avoid. These include:
- Processed and packaged foods
- Refined grains
- Processed sugar or foods containing added sugar
- Industrial oils (canola oil, palm oil, vegetable oil, etc.)
- Foods high in lectins (peanuts, raw beans, raw potatoes, raw soybeans)
- Pasteurized dairy
- Produce grown with pesticides
- Cigarette smoke
Some people may also be sensitive to gluten, as it contains a pro-inflammatory protein called zonulin which can contribute to a leaky gut. If you have a leaky gut, it is recommended to avoid foods with gluten in them.
Best Foods for Leaky Gut
In general, the best foods for both preventing and repairing leaky gut will be foods that are nutritious and easy to digest. Therefore, a diet of whole foods such as organic fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and ethically/naturally raised animal products is recommended. In addition, if you have a leaky gut, it is essential to emphasize eating foods that are easy to digest and following the tips mentioned above to enhance the digestive process further.
Some foods, in particular, are beneficial for leaky gut, including:
Ghee is a type of clarified butter that has been heated low and slow, then strained to remove all the milk solids. It is essentially pure healthy fat. Consume ghee in moderation. It has many health benefits. One health benefit for a leaky gut, in particular, is that ghee is rich in butyric acid, a natural compound that has been shown to repair the gut lining. So including ghee in your diet can help to keep your intestinal wall healthy and strong.
2. Probiotic-rich foods
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that have many health benefits. They can help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome, which is essential for reducing gut inflammation and preventing organisms like Candida from growing out of control. Some of the best probiotic foods for leaky gut include:
3. Prebiotic-rich foods
Prebiotics are indigestible carbs (mostly from fiber) that feed probiotics. Essentially, they are foods that we cannot digest, but our gut bacteria can. When we eat prebiotic foods, they go to our lower digestive tract, where they act as food to help the healthy bacteria in our gut grow. Prebiotic foods are essential for gut health and prevent and repair leaky gut. Some examples of prebiotic foods include:
- Dandelion greens
- Chicory root
- Wheat bran
- Burdock root
4. Foods with L-Glutamine
L-glutamine is an amino acid that plays many roles in the body. It is also a very beneficial compound for gut health. L-glutamine supports gut health in several ways. Glutamine helps maintain the balance of the gut microbiome and increases the expression of tight junction proteins that support the strength and integrity of the gut lining. Additionally, L-glutamine helps to reduce inflammation in the gut.
Foods high in L-glutamine include:
- Cabbage (especially red cabbage)
- Raw milk
- Grass-fed beef
5. Raw Milk
Raw milk is a very nutrient-dense food. It is milk that has not been pasteurized to kill bacteria. The pasteurization process kills harmful bacteria that may be present in milk. Still, it also kills beneficial bacteria in milk and beneficial enzymes and inactivates many of the proteins and nutrients found in milk. Thus, pasteurized milk and raw milk are very different in their health benefits. Many lactose-intolerant people find that they are only sensitive to pasteurized milk but do fine when consuming raw milk.
Because raw milk does contain live bacteria, it is essential to ensure that you get it from a quality source with low contamination risks. If you can find a good quality source of raw milk, it can provide many benefits to your health and help prevent and repair leaky gut. Consult your doctor before consuming raw milk if you have preexisting health conditions.
Raw milk contains a compound called colostrum, a nutrient that stimulates the growth, healing, and repair of every organ, gland, and tissue in the body—including damaged gut tissue. It also strengthens the immune system with immunoglobulins that form our first line of immune defense. There are also colostrum supplements available that you can use in place of raw milk.
Zuma Nutrition’s Complete GI Protocol
Our Complete GI Protocol focuses on helping repair the overall gut environment, restoring balance in the gut microbiome, repairing the gut lining, and healing damaged gut tissue.† It contains four critical products for supporting gut health:
- Butyric acid
- Arabinogalactan (a beneficial prebiotic compound)
These nutrients, combined with the dietary and lifestyle tips recommended in the protocol guide, provide the essential tools for preventing and repairing leaky gut by improving the terrain in the stomach, recolonizing the gut with beneficial bacteria, repairing the intestinal lining, and fighting gut inflammation.†
A leaky gut syndrome is a digestive condition that causes small gaps to form in the lining of the intestines, allowing bacteria and other toxins to pass into the bloodstream. This can lead to numerous other ailments as toxins in the bloodstream are distributed to different organs in the body.
To prevent or repair leaky gut, it is essential to know what the major causes of leaky gut are and what foods are the best and worst foods for leaky gut. We hope that the information presented in this article can better understand the leaky gut syndrome and how you can prevent it with diet.